Going the distance

Clouded judgment, poor choices result from stress

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. August 22, 2012

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

There's overwhelming evidence that stress impairs judgment. Let me explain.

A beloved friend and colleague at another institution was a very prominent surgeon. He was sought after for his technical skills and keen diagnostic insights. Because of administrative and bureaucratic frustrations, he resigned his position at the top of his game and, in a subtle gesture of defiance, refused to renew his medical license.

After a one-year honeymoon of retirement, my colleague found he missed the energy and collegiality of the medical environment. He applied for reinstatement of his medical license. In response he received a form letter stating that because he was in his 60s and had voluntarily given up his license, he could not apply to have it renewed. My colleague was devastated. He'd made a decision in haste without thinking it through. The result is that he's now struggling with the loss of his sense of purpose and identity.

So the lesson is real clear: You need to visualize and understand the consequences of your choices. And be especially cautious about making decisions in haste.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

4 Comments Posted

Aug. 22, 2012